Beverley Marson, 54, siphoned amounts from the accounts of Sweeting Engineers in Scarborough and spent the money on gambling and clothes, York Crown Court heard.
Between January 2014 and December 2018, Marson rifled through company accounts and splurged on gambling and shopping at the likes of Next and Bonmarche, said prosecutor Rob Galley.
Marson, who had worked at the company for about 19 years and was the firm’s well-remunerated finance director for about six years, managed to hide her crimes for five years and in early 2018 was even approached by one of the directors to become involved in the financing of a potential takeover of the business because one of the owners was approaching retirement age.
She turned down the offer, whereupon the director who made the offer set about trying to secure a bank loan for the takeover, only for NatWest to warn him that there had been a series of suspicious transactions on the company account, resulting in a shortfall of £98,270.
Over the five-year period, Marson spent about £70,000 on her gambling habit and the rest, just over £28,000, on clothes.
Company bosses called her in for a meeting in November last year and Marson immediately owned up to her deceit. She resigned her post immediately.
She was arrested and charged with one count of fraud which she admitted. She appeared for sentence on Monday, extremely tearful and contrite.
Mr Galley said Marson had already repaid most of the cash and handed back her £30,000 shares to the company. However, she still owed about £33,000, which she had pledged to pay back.
He said her gross betrayal had affected the company’s profits and accounting services.
Defence counsel for Marson - who had worked her way up from office worker and company secretary to a position where she was holding the purse strings - said she had “lost everything: her family, her job and her house” due to her actions.
“And (she has lost) her good name in a small town like Scarborough, where she (became) something of a pariah,” he added.
Marson, who has since left the town to live in County Durham after splitting from her husband, had held 15 per cent of the shares in the engineering company.
But she got caught up in a “downward spiral of addiction” after getting hooked on gambling and was “trying to get away from many problems in her life”.
She had since paid privately for counselling and made repayments to the company through the sale of her former matrimonial home.
Marson had hitherto been “respected in the community” and had never been in a court of law before, but gambling had been her “undoing”. She suffered from depression and anxiety and had been having suicidal thoughts.
The court heard that although the company had suffered “substantial” financial loss due to Marson’s fraudulence, it had not been plunged into debt and there were no outstanding bills.
Judge Simon Hickey told Marson that company bosses “had placed their trust entirely in you”, but she breached that trust principally on account of her gambling habit.
“You couldn’t draw back (from your habit) and of course the addiction takes hold and you got further and further into debt,” he added.
He said, however, that he could suspend the inevitable jail sentence because Marson - who now lives in Bishop Auckland - had shown clear remorse, had co-operated fully with the “small but successful” company following her arrest, paid back most of the money and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
He said he had also noted that one of the company directors had provided a character reference for her despite her betrayal.
The named director said he had “trusted (Marson) throughout (her time at the firm)” and was “extremely shocked and saddened” when he find out she had been stealing from the company.
He said he had been forced to put on hold his retirement due to Marson’s thieving and that the bank had since placed the company under greater scrutiny, although it was still flourishing.
The two-year jail sentence was suspended for 24 months and Marson was ordered to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work. The judge ordered her to repay the outstanding sums to the company before the end of August.